It seems Joao Cancelo was as surprised as the watching Manchester City fans when he was asked to play an ‘inverted full-back’ role midway through the season.
Often there is debate as to whether Cancelo could start on the left or right side of defence, but that soon was taken to another level this season when Pep Guardiola started deploying him at a full back who would venture into defensive midfield when City had possession.
It was a tactic that immediately worked wonders, with Cancelo’s renaissance in his new position helping City to their incredible winning run between December and March.
And the Portuguese utility man says that tactic shook up the City squad after an inconsistent start and the whole squad has benefitted.
“I wasn’t used to playing inside, but today I feel I’m a more versatile player, I can do more things on the pitch,” he explained.
“I try to do what the manager says the best way I can. I just want to contribute to the team to achieve our goals. I feel in that position I contributed to the success of the team. At the beginning of the year, we didn’t get the results we expected, so I think my change of position helped to shake up the team.
“I think I have made a step forward this season. My mentality changed and the way I see football also changed. I have also matured and evolved as a person, so that has helped me in my transformation on the pitch.
“I’m very confident in my qualities as a player, so both my skills and my mentality has helped me made the step up on my game.”
Cancelo also revealed that he has noticed a different mentality in training this week ahead of the Champions League final as the City squad are desperate to bring home the trophy for fans.
“In the Premier League, for instance, you play for three points,” he began.
“If you lose one game, you can win the next three or four and you get a winning streak. In the Champions League, you win or you are out. Mentally, it’s difficult to handle. The Champions League is another adrenaline.
“I feel different adrenaline in every training session this week, but I guess it is normal for the size of the game on Saturday. My teammates and I want to make history in this club.
“It’s the first Champions League final for the club. We work hard every day during a whole season to get to this moment, so it’s the realisation of a dream being in this final.
“We are really looking forward to Saturday, we are getting ready for the big day. I think we need to be true to ourselves, keep our identity, who we are as a team. We can wrap up an incredible season if we win the Champions League, after we have already won the Carabao Cup and the Premier League. It can be an unforgettable season.”